What is Mayan Ceremonial Cacao?

Chocolate Yoga prides ourselves on sourcing and using the highest quality cacao available for our yoga workshops and soon to be held Chocolate Ceremonies. We use only Mayan Ceremonial Grade Cacao. So what do we mean when we call our cacao “Mayan Ceremonial Cacao”? Aren’t all cacao beans the same? If not, what’s the difference? And are our cacao beans actually better for you?

To answer these questions, lets take a quick peek into the world-wide production of cacao to see where other chocolate comes from and what you get when you go to the supermarket and health food shop.

Cacao Varieties

Cacao beans come in three main varieties… Criollo, Forastero & Trinitario.

Criollo is native to Central America and a few northern tier South American countries such as Peru, Ecuador & Brazil. It is the most highly prized cacao bean, as Criollo varieties are rare and therefore expensive. It is also has a spiritual potency. Criollo beans make up less than 1% of the worlds production as crop yields from Criollo trees are low. Criollo cacao is fine and sweet with complex secondary flavour overtones (meaning that the taste is finer and has a longer duration).

Forastero is grown largely in West Africa and South America and makes up over 80% of the worlds cacao production. It is a hardier plant than Criollo, with significantly higher crop yields per tree. It has a stronger, more simple taste without the secondary flavours, giving it a more classic chocolate flavour. It is known as bulk cacao, it is mass produced and is of little spiritual value.

Trinitario is the most common of the many hybrid varieties of cacao. Criollo and Forastero cross pollinate very easily, forming what are termed as hybrid beans. These can have more of the finer taste of the Criollo or the more hardiness of the Forastero. Trinitario originated in, as its name suggests, Trinidad after a massive cyclone wiped out much of the Criollo crop. The orchards were replanted using Forastero and soon after Trinitario was born, formed naturally from the cross pollination of the two. Trinitario makes up about 15% of the worlds production and is considered to be the lower-grade variety.

What are the cacao varieties in the supermarket and health food shops?

So, just about all of the chocolate found in the supermarket is a mixture of the Forastero and Trinitario varieties as they are the most suitable for mass production. This cacao is generally heated to high temperatures, mixed with processed sugar or artificial sweeteners, dairy, trans fats and preservatives that negate just about all of the health properties of cacao. Even the 85% cacao commercial chocolates are still mixed with processed sugar, thus reducing the quality and health benefits (although 85% cacao chocolate is better for you). Much of the Forastero & Trinitario cacao available on the world market is bought from third world farmers at below market price, propagating third world poverty.

What about the cacao powder, cacao butter and cacao beans in the health food shops, surely this is better? Unless the packaging goes to great lengths to tell you that the beans are Criollo variety, they are still the Forastero or Trinitario (or another hybrid) variety. While cacao in this more pure form has much greater health benefits than supermarket chocolate, its still not the good stuff. In fact hybridisation not only reduces medicinal value, but its also negates the spiritual properties of the cacao.

Some health food companies will tell you that they do have the Criollo variety, and this may well be what they thought they were buying. But unless they keep a VERY close watch on the harvesting, transporting and production process, the highly valued Criollo beans easily “go missing” in the third world. Check out the measures that David Wolfe takes, to ensure that he gets the real Criollo (Arriba Nacional) cacao beans in Ecuador.

Criollo beans from Central America

The Criollo beans used by the Mayans are prized beans because they are an ancient plant medicine. They are a heart opener, a consciousness facilitator and wise teacher. It has even been said that the Ancient Mayans infused these beans with spirit, allowing a greater connection to the cosmos when used in ceremony and meditation. This connection is said to be facilitated by the Cacao Spirit or Cacao Deva. Next time you have a dose of Mayan Ceremonial Cacao, try meditating and connecting to the plant spirit of Cacao. She can be beautiful, soft and gentle, yet potent and powerful.

Criollo beans are also amazing medicine for the physical body, being the highest known source of magnesium of any food on the planet and the highest source of antioxidants by density. We will talk more about the health benefits of Criollo cacao in a future post.

The Ancient Mayans were very spiritual, celebrating and honouring the spirit in all things. They knew the sacredness of the Criollo bean and this is the bean they used as currency. It was like gold to them, and you can see why!

The Ancient Mayans only used their most sacred beans for ceremony. So our Mayan Ceremonial Cacao is the Criollo bean from Central America infused with Mayan spirit. This is the bean that our Guatemalan Chocolate Shaman introduced us to.

How do we know we are getting the real thing?

Our Guatemalan Chocolate Shaman only uses the Criollo variety in his work, because the other varieties simply don’t have the same spiritual properties. They don’t work. The production operation he runs is a small family run operation, everyone gets fairly paid for their work, from the local farmers who farm without chemicals in the rainforest, to the women who hand peel every bean, to the antique mill owners who grind only cacao beans in their mill.

Our Chocolate Shaman knows which beans are which. He buys from local farmers he knows and trusts. He tunes into the beans and can feel the difference. He too has had the experience of the highly prized Criollo beans being swapped for a lower-grade variety during the milling process when he was first setting up shop.

We know at Chocolate Yoga that we are getting the highest quality Mayan Ceremonial Cacao, direct from the rainforests of Guatemala, deep in the Mayan homelands. In our opinion, it is far superior to any other cacao we have tried.

So we ask you to try it for yourself and compare it to other cacao and chocolate products and see the difference for yourself.

Have you tried Chocolate Yoga’s Mayan Ceremonial Cacao yet?
If so, we would love to hear about your experience(s) by writing a comment below.

Chocolate Blessings,
Shaa.

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